New Music Monday: Santana and Sinead O'Connor, Don Byron and Blue Öyster Cult

New Music Monday beings another truckload of interesting releases, not least of which are Cursive, Don Byron, Mona and Sinead O’Connor, as well as reissues and concert souvenirs from Diana Ross, Parliament-Funkadelic’s Eddie Hazel and Santana. Also just-in this week: Chloe Brisson, Ivo Perelman, Jeff Hamilton, and Kevn Kinney and the Golden Palominos. Other interesting updates of older items include Blue Öyster Cult, Nancy Wilson and Sean Bonniwell.

But, as always, that’s just the tip of the proverbial musical iceberg.

PRESENTING NEW MUSIC MONDAY FOR THE WEEK OF FEB. 20, 2012 …

Angelique KidjoSpirit Rising (R&B)
Andre CymoneLivin’ In The New Wave [Expanded Version]; Survivin’ In The 80′s [Expanded Version] (Pop/Rock)
Archers of LoafVee Vee (Pop/Rock)
Benny Goodman and his Orchestra and Quintet and SextetAFRS Benny Goodman Show Volume 12 (Jazz)

BLUE ÖYSTER CULT – THE ESSENTIAL BLUE ÖYSTER CULT (POP/ROCK): Everybody remembers “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper,” Blue Öyster Cult’s No. 12 hit from 1976 — and I admit, I’ve always been a fan of the song’s false ending, followed by lead guitarist Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser’s super-sly return. Oh, sure, and the cowbell. But, for me, the better song has always been “Burnin’ For You,” which once spent three weeks stuck at No. 40 in 1981 — and never more so than when Roeser slips in an of-the-moment piece of nostalgia during a series of lines beginning with the word “time.” There’s “is the season,” “ain’t no reason,” “ain’t on my side,” and “I’ll never know,” but then, right in the middle, he winkingly adds: “Time to play B-sides.” (Quick, kids, what’s a B-side? That’s what I thought.) Elsewhere, there is plenty of heavier, edgier fare to recommend this terrific sampler, as well. But “Burnin’ For You” is the A-side I’ll always love. — Nick DeRiso

Caroline Smith and the Good Night SleepsBackyard Tent Set (Folk)
Chelsea CrowellCrystal City (Folk)

CHLOE BRISSON – BLAME IT ON MY YOUTH (JAZZ): When this New Hampshire vocalist first arrived with the debut project Red Door Sessions, she was all of 13-years-old. Inevitably, the attention surrounding Brisson was as much (maybe more) about her age as her, well, her voice. Chloe Brisson returns, four years later, with an album that makes the case for a career beyond that of youthful curiosity. In the intervening time, Brisson has grown more confident in her approach, and her voice has taken on interesting new depths and shadings. (More here.)Nick DeRiso

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CURSIVE – I AM GEMINI (POP/ROCK): A Big Idea Project that expands Cursive’s already interesting legacy. From the first, Cursive had a knack for combining head-banging and country-informed twanging (see 2000′s Domestica and 2003′s The Ugly Organ) but by the time of 2009′s Mama, I’m Swollen, we got our first inklings of these more complex story-rock aspirations. Here, they drill in on a song cycle involving twin brothers separated at birth. Cassius and Pollock end up representing the duality found in all of us, both good and evil. There follows, of course, the inevitable showdown, a mythical struggle for their very soul. (More here.)Nick DeRiso

David HolmesHaywire (Stage and Screen)

DIANA ROSS – DIANA ROSS 1976: SPECIAL EDITION (R&B): This is, actually, the former Supemes leader’s second self-titled release, following her 1970 solo debut. While it can’t match the original’s critical successes, it was a blockbuster in its own right, having gone to Billboard No. 5 on the strength of a string of hits led by “Theme From Mahogany (Do You Know Where You’re Going To)” and the disco anthem “Love Hangover” — both of which topped the charts. That made this album Ross’ biggest hit since 1973′s Touch Me in the Morning. Other standout cuts: “One Love in My Lifetime” and “I Thought it Took a Little Time (But Today I Fell in Love),” both of which also charted. Motown songwriting ace Pam Sawyer co-wrote both “Love Hangover and “I Thought It Took a Little Time.” — Nick DeRiso

DON BYRON GOSPEL SEXTET – LOVE, PEACE AND SOUL (JAZZ): The debut of this soulfully swaying amalgam finds Byron – one of this era’s more intriguing jazz clarinetist/saxophonists – turning his attention to the layered musical legacies of Thomas A. Dorsey and Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Dorsey, known as the father of black gospel, pioneered the combination of traditional Christian hymns with the rhythmic complexities of jazz and blues. Tharpe shared a similar curiosity for new sounds to carry praise messages. Together, they helped redraw the template for spiritual expression, and formed a uniting thread within the country’s varied African American communities. Byron celebrates this often forgotten history, even as he expands upon it. (More here.)Nick DeRiso

DonovanThe Essential Donovan (Pop/Rock)
Eddie C. CampbellSpider Eating Preacher (Blues)

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EDDIE HAZEL – GAME, DAMES AND GUITAR THANGS (R&B): A lost gem by the late, great lead guitarist for Parliament-Funkadelic, Hazel’s 1977 debut album features a trio of well-selected covers set amidst of series of thunderously groovy originals featuring many of his fellow P-Funk All Stars. Highlights include the trippy reverie of Hazel’s take on the Mamas and the Papa’s “California Dreamin,’” the darkly funky update of John Lennon’s “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” from the Beatles, and the P-Funk original “Frantic Moment,” a George Clinton-Bootsy Collins-Bernie Worrell composition — something that makes as good a case as any for the guitarist’s underrated genius. Unfortunately, this would be Hazel’s lone release before his death in 1992. (More here.)Nick DeRiso

Eric TingstadBadlands (Country)
Field MusicPlumb (Pop/Rock)
fun.Some Nights (Pop/Rock)
GalacticCarnivale Electricos (Pop/Rock)
Gary HusbandDirty and Beautiful, Volume 2 (Jazz)
Gina ForsythPromised Land (Country)
Hilary HahnSpectacular (Pop/Rock)
isidoreLife Somewhere Else (Pop/Rock)

IVO PERELMAN, JOE MORRIS, GERALD CLEAVER – FAMILY TIES (JAZZ): It might be hard to believe that less would be more, when considering a new Ivo Perelman album made without a musical force like Matthew Shipp. But his absence merely gives musicians of Joe Morris and Gerald Cleaver’s caliber the opportunity to step forward and fill in the space along with Perelman. Perelman is a deconstructionist, but one who takes the concept further: he not only takes apart songs, he takes apart his quartet. Up next: a one-on-one project with Shipp and another one with Cleaver. (More here.)S. Victor Aaron

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JEFF HAMILTON TRIO – RED SPARKLE (JAZZ): A Jeff Hamilton small combo setting where its drummer leader can make his presence known without having to be overbearing. That’s because he’s a master stylist behind the kit, whether he’s swinging on “Ain’t That A Peach” or “Too Marvelous For Words,” applying nifty brush work on the samba he made out of Thelonius Monk’s “Bye Ya,” or executing a sublime light tom-tom and cymbal touch to a wonderfully re-imagining of Stephen Bishop’s old pop hit “On And On.” And then there’s the fun, hearty groove he lays down on the title cut and the funky, loose groove on “In An Ellingtone.” (More here.)S. Victor Aaron

Jeff ParkerBright Light In Winter (Jazz)
John Williams and the Boston Pops OrchestraA Celebration (Classical)

KEVN KINNEY AND THE GOLDEN PALOMINOS – A GOOD COUNTRY MILE (POP/ROCK): This is Kinney’s first new solo effort since 2004′s Sun Tangled Angel Revival, and the first time Anton Fier has attached the Golden Palominos name to a recording since 1996′s Dead Inside. Reportedly conceived over the course of many jam sessions in “a cigarette smoke-shrouded, coffee-splattered East Village rehearsal space, as well as a 75-week-long club residency,” A Good Country Mile includes new Kinney originals, takes on some longtime favorites by other songwriters, and a handful of fresh readings of vintage Kevn and Drivn’ n Cryin’ songs. (More here.)Nick DeRiso

LambchopMr. M (Pop/Rock)
Max Raabe and His Palast OrchesterOne Cannot Kiss Alone (Jazz)
Mel BrooksGreatest Hits (Comedy)

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Mel Torme and Shorty RogersGuard Sessions (Jazz)
Memphis HornsHigh On Music; Get Up and Dance (R&B)

MONA – MONA (POP/ROCK): Their emblematic lead single, “Listen to Your Love,” is everything you need to know about Mona: A stirring, arena-rock riff; a howling, transfixing frontman; a propulsive, punky chorus. So, OK, this might be ground already well trod by Kings of Leon. Still, there’s something intriguingly authentic about this project, recorded in the band’s basement in Nashville, Tennessee. Originally conceived as a string of demos by the quartet (that’s guitarist/vocalist Nick Brown, drummer Vincent Gard, bassist Zachary Lindsey and guitarist Jordan Young), this teeth-rattling debut sounds like what it is: Something done live, with a minimal number of takes and a minimal number of overdubs. Oh, and big fun. (More here.)Nick DeRiso

Moot DavisMan About Town (Country)

NANCY WILSON – THIS MOTHER’S DAUGHTER; I’VE NEVER BEEN TO ME (JAZZ): By this point in 1976-77, Wilson was no longer the red-hot young vocal sensation that would become Capitol Records’ second-best selling artist of the 1960s, behind only a certain mop-topped crew. That doesn’t mean she still wasn’t putting out records that put her in league with the great jazz singers, even while laboring under the weight of this era’s goopy overproduction and questionable material. She could still swing a jazz song, pop through contemporary mainstream tunes, get down into gritty blues, go deeper still in soul, and handle the standard songbook with aplomb. She even enlivens over-thought items like the title track of “I’ve Never Been To Me.” She was — and is — that good. (More here.)Nick DeRiso

Perfume GeniusPut Your Back N 2 It (Pop/Rock)
Peter BroderickIt Starts Here (Pop/Rock)
Roger McGough and Mike McGearMcGough & McGear (Pop/Rock)

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SANTANA – GREATEST HITS: LIVE AT MONTREUX 2011 DVD/Blu-ray (POP/ROCK): His sound is so crystalline, so special, that Carlos Santana remains recognizable with or without pictures. Yet for all of the accolades showered on this Mexican-born American guitar hero, not least of which is his inclusion in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Santana has always been as bold and colorful as he is collaboratively brilliant. Greatest Hits: Live at Montreux, filmed last summer, tends to underscore how these intersections — from Gregg Rolie to Rob Thomas — have come to define his band — and, in some cases, how dearly the original voices that joined Santana are missed. (More here.)Nick DeRiso

ScorpionsGet Your Sting and Blackout: Live in 3D Blu-ray (Pop/Rock)
Sara RadleSame Sun Shines (Pop/Rock)

SINEAD O’CONNOR – HOW ABOUT I BE ME (AND YOU BE YOU)? (POP/ROCK): Amazingly, next year marks the 25th anniversary of Sinead O’Connor’s career-making debut, 1987′s The Lion and the Cobra. Unfortunately, other than a memorable 1990 cover of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U,” her subsequent public life has been notable more for controversy and tabloid headlines than any of her music. That could change with this new release, featuring a number of return-to-form originals, as well as a smart cover of “Queen of Denmark” by former Czars frontman John Grant. How To … is O’Connor’s most focused work in some time. (More here.)Nick DeRiso

Sleigh BellsReign of Terror (Pop/Rock)

T.S. (SEAN) BONNIWELL – CLOSE (POP/ROCK): What a trip this is, the lone and long-forgotten album from Sean Bonniwell, or T.S., or whatever. Best known as leader of the 1960s American garage-rock band the Music Machine, he’d briefly established a reputation for fuzzy-guitared, Farfisa-organed, proto-punk. Don’t come looking for that here, as Bonniwell trades in his first name for the more regal sounding “T.S.,” and assumes a similarly introspective tone that must’ve stunned fans of his old band. Flecked with touches of bossa nova, flamenco, even strings (!), Close — perhaps, predictably — sunk like a rock. Not long after, Bonniwell retired from music for good. This Real Gone reissue arrives in the wake of his recent passing after a bout with cancer. (More here.)Nick DeRiso

The ChieftainsVoice Of Ages (Pop/Rock)
The Ting TingsSounds From Nowheresville (Pop/Rock)
The MenzingersOn the Impossible Past (Pop/Rock)
The VespersThe Fourth Wall (Pop/Rock)
Various artistsAct of Valor [Keith Urban, Sugarland, Lady Antebellum, Trace Adkins] (Country)
Various artistsGlam Rock Anthology [David Bowie, Alice Cooper, Roxy Music, Slade, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, New York Dolls, The Sweet, T. Rex] (Pop/Rock)
Various ArtistsTime to Go-The Southern Psychedelic Moment: 1981-86 [Pin Group, Playthings, The Gordons, The Chills, Scorched Earth Policy, Max Block, Doublehappys] (Pop/Rock)

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